Sundre Resurgent After Surgery

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Sundre Golf Club Has Been Reborn With The Immense Input Of The Thorogood Brothers - All Photos Courtesy Facility
by Jim Claggett

The for sale sign at the Sundre Golf Club could have easily read something like-lovely golf course for sale, all the holes are there but could use a little fixing up, some water issues to be addressed, numerous large trees surrounding property, magnificent views, great fixer-upper for the handyman.

What ever the attraction was for Calgary’s Thorogood brothers, Jim, Dane and Ryan, along with partner Jay Wilson, they bought into it with everything they had and began to put their collective shoulder’s to the wheel to bring the course up to their expectations.

"He (Jim) wanted a good golf course, it was his golf course and the same pride he took in his business, Totem, he took with his golf course-it had to be the best," explained the club’s director of golf Buzz Wilson.

So back in 2006 the ball started rolling towards re-doing all the fairways and greens because the course was worn out and the fairways were rotting, says Wilson. "Similar to the effect you get in a basement with moisture and no air flow-you get mildew," said the native of Victoria, B.C. who has called Calgary home for some 30 years.

In September of that year the front nine was closed and the graders moved in to rip up the turf. Wilson says hundreds of golf balls were uncovered after sinking down through the grass over the years. "The fairways would get so wet and after a good rain parts of the course had to be roped off for lengthy periods of time," he said.

The following year the same was done to the back nine at Sundre and the transformation was almost complete. New Kentucky Blue Grass was trucked in from Red Deer and the greens are a dominant bent grass that was brought in from Littleton, Colorado which has a similar climate to the Sundre area according to Wilson.

The Greens Were A Big Part Of The Refurbishing As Well
The greens, which arrived in refrigerated trucks, are grown on plastic sheets and come in a solid mat.

In addition to replacing basically each blade of grass on the course, the trees were all trimmed back to allow for better air flow and the ability to see one fairway from another - something Wilson says you couldn’t really do before.

The brush was cleared out and replaced with mulch which allows a golfer to easily find his or her wayward shot and most times you even have a play back into the fairway.

The work to transform the golf course continued with the cart paths being all paved over to avoid the dust and cut back on the constant washing of the power carts.

Wilson says the carts were always covered in dust and a good rain would turn those same paths into mud. He added, after that rain you couldn’t use the carts because the fairways were too wet.

In addition to all the on-course work undertaken, the clubhouse was completely renovated on top of the existing foundation. Wilson says Jim Thorogood realized in order to maintain this course he needed to purchase the right equipment and so more money was pumped into new machinery.

After all was said and done, more than 10 million dollars has gone into the rebuilding of the Sundre Golf Club and Wilson says members were very patient waiting for results that were certainly worth the wait.

But the work didn’t stop once all the grass was replaced and the trees trimmed. The routing of the course was also re-worked with the transformation of the par three 15th into a 556 yard par five.

The Re-Routing Of The Golf Course Has Helped Speed Up Play And Given Sundre A New Vibrant Look And Feel
Then the par five 17th hole was sliced up into a 402 yard par four and a 151 yard par three. "The back to back par threes on the back nine really slowed up play," says Wilson.

The course stretches out over 6700 yards from the tips and Wilson says there is enough golf course out there which makes you hit a good shot that it makes up for not being a 7200 yard monster.

"It’s a good, fair golf course. You hit a good shot and you will be rewarded," points out Wilson.

Green fees are $75 during the week and $85 on the weekend and that includes the cart you can drive on the new paved over paths.

Wilson says the owners have also purchased a 90 acre parcel of land next to the course to make room for a 100 room hotel to make this a real stay and play opportunity.

Who knows what’s next on the to do list for the owners but for now, they can sit back and watch people enjoy the product of their hard work and investment.

About The Writer:
Jim Claggett is a journalist located in Red Deer. He has been Inside Golf’s Alberta Editor for the past eight years.

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By Jim Claggett

Jim Claggett is a journalist located in Red Deer, Alberta. He has been Inside Golf's Alberta Editor for the past eight years.

More articles by Jim Claggett